J. Pharoah Doss: The coach and the hoax

by J. Pharoah Doss, For New Pittsburgh Courier

Home run legend Frank Robinson made his major league debut nine years after Jackie Robinson, no relation, broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Frank Robinson was a pioneer in his own right. He became the first Black manager of a Major League Baseball team in 1975.

Needless to say, Frank Robinson encountered unthinkable racism, but he always said, “Jackie taught us the way to beat the hate was to beat them on the field.”

In 2005 a reporter asked Frank Robinson about a Black player that left Major League Baseball in the 1960s because of “racist abuse”. The reporter thought this Black player demonstrated “silent dignity” by leaving the sport.

But Robinson disagreed and replied, “He wasn’t strong. He went home. He didn’t pursue what he wanted to do in life. He let a barrier prevent him from doing that.”

In other words, “silent dignity” was an excuse for the lack of perseverance.

Last month, Duke University’s women’s volleyball team visited Brigham Young University. After the match, Duke’s Rachel Richardson, a Black woman, claimed she, along with her Black teammates, were bombarded with racial slurs which made them feel unsafe.

Of course, the mainstream media ran with the story.

CNN’s Jim Acosta spoke with former NAACP president, Cornell William Brooks, about the incident. Acosta began, “We are 75 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. Why are [Black] athletes still having to deal with this?”

Acosta basically said “the color barrier” or systemic racism was the same as name-calling.

Brooks called the incident disturbing, compared it to the racial taunts Jesse Owens endured during the 1936 Olympics held in Nazi Germany, and then said, “But we should take note of the grace, the courage, and the dignity of Rachael Richardson and her teammates [when compared] to the ugliness of the fan (apparently there was only one person) and the moral incompetence of the BYU officials, coach, and leadership.”

Brooks compared the environment at a BYU volleyball game to Nazi Germany. Brooks must have forgotten that when Jesse Owens won his 4 Olympic gold medals in Germany, he did so with Hitler in attendance.

BYU’s Athletic Department issued an apology.

BYU actually banned a person identified by Duke players from all of its athletic events. This person wasn’t a BYU student or The Führer. He was a mentally challenged fan that approached a Duke player, but the Duke players claimed his voice matched the voice shouting racial slurs. (But he wasn’t even seated in the section the players claimed the slurs came from.)

All of this hysteria prompted Dawn Staley, head coach of women’s basketball at the University of South Carolina, to cancel the basketball team’s home-and-home series with BYU. That means South Carolina’s Nov. 7 season opener against BYU and next season’s game at BYU are canceled. Staley said, “As head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff … And I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Frank Robinson would have scolded Staley for not giving her players the opportunity to persevere and silence BYU’s crowd by beating them on their home court.

But Staley felt it was necessary to protect her players from racial slurs.

A group of South Carolina republican legislators sent a letter to the University of South Carolina complaining that their athletic department “rushed to appease the loudest voices of the far-left by ‘canceling’ BYU literally and figuratively.”

After BYU’s full investigation into the incident, they found no video evidence that substantiated the Duke volleyball team’s claim.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith condemned BYU at first, but after the investigation he said racism still exists, it’s something that needs to be completely eradicated, but we’re not doing ourselves any favors if we bring it up and broach it when it doesn’t exist.

When head coach Staley was informed that BYU’s investigation found that the racial incident never occurred, Staley replied, “I continue to stand by my position. After my personal research, I made a decision for the well-being of my team.”

Staley’s over-eager and overprotective response to a racial incident that she “wanted to be true” was unnecessary, but doubling down on her over-reaction was unreasonable.

Only the reporter that interviewed Frank Robinson in 2005 would understand why Staley won’t apologize for her haste.

It’s a demonstration of her “silent dignity.”

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